Eternity Factor- Psalms 16-17

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance”
(Psalm 16:5-6, ESV).

“Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men by your hand, O Lord, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalms 17:13-15, ESV).

There’s a very important theological distinction in these two Psalms that can be used as the measure for the lives of human beings on this earth.  The Psalmist distinguishes a life in which “the Lord is my chosen portion” and has a heavenly inheritance from the lives of “men of the world whose portion is in this life” and  have no lasting inheritance.

For the men of the world their only reward is in this life (their wealth and their children of their lack thereof). Because, they leave all their wealth and their children behind when they die. But, the Psalmist confidently expresses in vs. 17:15 anticipation of eternal fellowship in God’s presence (when I awake is generally taken as implying from the sleep of death).

What’s implied theologically from these contrasting inheritances is that our life in this world is preparation for our life to come in God’s eternal kingdom.

God created us as creatures of eternity—eternal in union with Him or eternal in separation from Him. The inevitability that all human beings will enter eternity bound for life or condemnation should be factored into every person’s life.

Even the Old Testament writer’s understood this eternity factor.

Unfortunately, this eternity factor is often missing from many people’s outlook and world view. One reason for this omission or oversight may be that people do not like to think or talk about death even though most people believe in an” afterlife” and believe that their final destination in the afterlife is heaven.

But, the fact remains that heaven is not the default eternal destination.  Heaven is not automatic without a personal resolution to the problem of human sin and rebellion, which causes our present (and eternal) separation from God.

The distinction the Psalmist makes between those trusting in God and those trusting in the world indicates that God is not only concerned about our personal relationship with Him, but also about the expression of this relationship in action and behavior that will ultimately manifest itself in eternal life.

God wants to prepare you for eternal life and He wants you to begin to act and behave now according to the way that you will live in His Kingdom eternally. Because, what you are becoming in this present life is what you will surely be in eternity!

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20-21, ESV)

Easily Distracted – Luke 10:38-42

“But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’” (Luke 10:40, ESV).

I have written on these verses in a previous post. In reading again through my previous post and this story from Dr. Luke’s gospel, I think I may have overlooked an important point.

It’s not that my former exposition was inaccurate. It’s not that my theology was incorrect.

It’s that there is just another element to the story that I need to emphasize….

Martha was taking care of Jesus and His entourage while they were visiting in her home, but her sister Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to His teaching. When Martha complained to Jesus about Mary’s irresponsible behavior, Jesus responded that Mary was doing what’s really important (vs. 42).

Although we want to be spiritual Mary’s, we’re really superficial Martha’s.  We busy ourselves in doing good works and then don’t have have the time or energy to fulfill our spiritual calling.

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Lending Generously – Psalm 37

“I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing” (Psalm 37:25-26, ESV).

Psalm 37 is one of my favorite Psalms because it has so many memorable sayings:

  • “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (vs. 4).
  • “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act” (vs. 5).
  • “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (vs. 7).
  • “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way” (vs 23).
  • “I have been young and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsake or his children begging for bread” (vs 25).

But one of the most interesting sayings in this Psalm is the declaration in vs. 26 that a righteous person is always “lending generously.”

We all know you should be generous in your giving, but being generous in your lending takes being generous to a whole different level!

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A Hill To Die On: Part 2 – Daniel 3:8-30

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up’” (Daniel 3: 16-18, ESV).

In Part 1 of this meditation I stated that we often take misguided stands for God because we are really just trying to compel or coerce people to believe or behave the way we think we think they should based on ill-conceived notions of what that Bible says.

In other words when we take a stand on principle, it should demonstrate our trust in God and His standards and not in our own personal convictions.

In Daniel 3 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego exemplify how to determine “a hill to die on.”  These three friends of Daniel were officials in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. They refused to obey the King’s command to worship a golden image the King had made even under threat of being burned to death in a furnace.

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A Hill To Die On: Part 1 – Ecclesiastes 8:2-5

“Keep the king’s command, because of God’s oath to him. Be not hasty to go from his presence. Do not take your stand in an evil cause, for he does whatever he pleases. For the word of the king is supreme, and who may say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ Whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing, and the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way” (Ecclesiastes 8:2-5, ESV).

Sometimes a biblical text reveals some insight into God’s nature. Sometimes a text provides a spiritual admonition. And, sometimes a biblical text just offers some practical advice, which seems to be the case with these verses.

The way we would state the sentiment expressed in these verses in modern vernacular would be “picking your battle” or “choosing which hill to die on.” That is, use wisdom and not passion to determine what cause is worth fighting for.

But, the causes we choose to defend are often meaningless causes–or as the Preacher says in this verse from Ecclesiastes, “an evil cause.”

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Ineffective Christians – 2 Peter 1:3-11

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8, ESV).

The Apostle Peter indicates in these verses that Christians can be ineffective! I’m sure you’ve heard of an ineffective employee or an ineffective manager, but an ineffective Christian?

“Ineffective” simply means not producing results, not productive–or as Peter defines it for Christians, not fruitful.

An ineffective employee doesn’t produce results. An ineffective Christian doesn’t bear fruit.

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Can Christians Commit the Unpardonable Sin? – Mark 3:20-30

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29, ESV).

Jesus states this theological conundrum in response to the scribes who were accusing Him of being possessed by an evil spirit. He replied that a kingdom can’t be divided against itself: “How can Satan cast out Satan?” (vs. 23). Then, Jesus seems to warn the scribes they may be the ones committing blasphemy!

Luke’s account complicates the conundrum. In Luke 12:10 Jesus says, “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Today, we use these verses as the basis for the so-called doctrine of the unpardonable sin.

We generally consider blasphemy as contemptuous behavior towards God often exhibited by cursing or reviling God. But, there is an underlying theological supposition to blasphemy–that is, to attribute to oneself the rights or qualities of God.

The scribes’ indictment of blasphemy against Jesus in Mark 3 was based on that theological component. So, when Jesus answered them back, he used the scribes own faulty reasoning against them–their accusation of Jesus’ supposed blasphemy was in itself blasphemous!

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